Capitol Hill Meetings Bring Blessings

Capitol Hill Meetings Bring Blessings

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by Don Ingwerson

I mentioned last month an effort by Christian Scientists to meet Members of Congress to discuss health care reform in our annual Capitol Hill Day. The Federal Office has posted an update on these efforts:

Over the past four years, we’ve had the privilege of working with many Christian Scientists throughout the country—from Hawaii to Maine—who have volunteered their time in coming to Washington, DC, to meet with Members of Congress. They’ve carved out time from their workweeks, vacations in DC, and family time to advocate for Christian Science.

Last month, we worked with over 100 such individuals in DC at the same time—“Capitol Hill Day 2013”. Over the course of two days, they met with over 300 Congressional offices to ask for their support of solutions for Christian Scientists!

The value of the event has been very clear, as we began relationships with new offices and built on existing ones with others. This effort resulted in many more Members of Congress actively supporting solutions for Christian Scientists.

It’s wonderful to see so tangibly the fruits of these meetings! And it seems that the Christian Scientists who have participated have found the experience meaningful, too—and even fun. But you don’t have to take our word for it:

The diversity of church members who have been a part of these kinds of meetings on Capitol Hill is tremendous! As Houston architect Carlos Machado notes, “working with other Christian Scientists from very diverse backgrounds and seeing each one of them shine in different ways during the meeting days” was one of the highlights of his experience on the Hill.

Carlos also says that he was “very grateful for the care expressed by the members of Congress and their staff…[and] left DC with a much deeper appreciation for the work being done by government officials.”

He’s not the only one who’s come away from these meetings with this type of newfound appreciation. Mimi Oka, who lives in New York City, is a Christian Science practitioner with a background in investment banking and performance art. Earlier this year, she came to us with an offer to come to DC and meet with some Members of Congress she and her husband know personally. Reflecting on her time trekking around the Hill, Mimi says the meetings “made me appreciate our democracy, the dedication of our elected officials, that we can really get past the fractious nature of partisan politics, that Christian Science really benefited from the support of core values enshrined in our constitution.”

Californian Rob Hummel says he felt “gratitude…for the opportunity to be able to participate and play a small part in this activity in supporting our church” during his two meeting-filled days. In fact, Rob, who has had a career in motion pictures that includes cinematography, visual effects, post production, and involvement with restoration of films like The Wizard of Oz, ended up canceling a speaking engagement in London to join us on Capitol Hill!

It can be incredibly rewarding to participate in a meeting. Pennsylvania Committee on Publication Debby Kowit shares, “It was heartwarming to interact with those who expressed a genuine interest in what we had to say.” Debby has joined us in DC more than once, and was very pleased to discover during her latest trip that several of the offices remembered the previous meetings!

We are deeply grateful for the extraordinary support from the Field over the past several years and as we continue to move forward as well!

To read this post on the Federal Office site, click here: The blessings of meetings on Capitol Hill

What is a “Lame Duck” Session, Anyway?

What is a "Lame Duck" Session, Anyway?

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The following is a blog from the Committee on Publication Federal Office that was posted on its website November 13, 2012

Wondering what a “lame duck” Congressional session is, and what this lame duck session (the next 1 ½ months) may look like? Check out this helpful layman’s-terms article by K&L Gates LLP. And for those of you who may be interested in a comprehensive election guide, K&L Gates has put one together here.

Gratitude for Departing Members of Congress who Have Supported Christian Science

Gratitude for Departing Members of Congress who Have Supported Christian Science

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The following is a blog from the Committee on Publication Federal Office that was posted on its website November 13, 2012

We are deeply grateful for the continued support of so many Congressional offices on both sides of the aisle and across the country. Now, as the 112th Congress ends, we’d like to specifically give gratitude for those Members of Congress who will be leaving Congress at the end of this year and have actively worked on behalf of Christian Scientists during their time in office.

The list includes representatives from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas.

 

A. Several of these offices provided statements regarding their work on behalf of Christian Scientists:

“It has been a true honor to represent the people of the Missouri 3rd Congressional District and to work with organizations like yours on key issues that impact our families and communities. By working together and using our common goals as a launching pad for policy, we continue to move our country forward. We can all agree that greater access to health care services will help our communities, but how we get there, as we saw with the Affordable Care Act, requires teamwork. No bill is perfect. That is why I was proud to collaborate with you on important pieces of legislation that resolve inequities like that which Christian Scientists face under the ACA. Legislation like this allows us to continue to expand health care access without asking religious organizations to compromise their principles.

“As I have learned through my time in Congress, when we focus on our similarities and find common ground, we can achieve great things for our country. The work you do is important, and your commitment to standing up for your principles is admirable.”

- Rep. Russ Carnahan, Missouri’s 3rd district

“It has been my privilege to have worked with Christian Scientists on health care and other issues. I have always appreciated the balance that Christian Scientists bring in their approach to health care.”

- Rep. Dale Kildee, Michigan’s 5th district

“I am proud to have worked on behalf of Christian Scientists to find an equitable solution for them under the ACA.”

- Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ohio’s 10th district

“I believe that government should not require an individual to do something contrary to a sincerely held religious belief.”

- Rep. Brad Miller, North Carolina’s 13th district

B. Read about those Members of Congress who will be leaving Congress at the end of this year and have actively worked on behalf of Christian Scientists during their time in office:

California

Rep. Joe Baca—43rd district, D

Congressman Baca, who was defeated in his race for another term, was elected to Congress in a 1999 special election in and has been there ever since. He serves on the Agriculture and Financial Services Committees. Baca’s pre-House background includes working on the Santa Fe Railroad, Army service, and state politics. He is the youngest of 15 children and has four of his own.

Rep. Jerry Lewis—41st district, R

Congressman Lewis has been a Member of Congress since 1978 and is now retiring. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Appropriations Committee and was Chairman of the House GOP California delegation for six years, as well as co-chair of the entire California delegation.

 

Connecticut

Sen. Joseph Lieberman—I

Native Connecticutian Senator Lieberman is retiring after six terms—over 20 years—in the Senate. The Democratic candidate for Vice President in 2000, he has been an Independent since his 2006 Senate election, though he caucuses with the Democrats. Lieberman, who played a large role in the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, is Chairman of the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee and also serves on the Armed Services and Small Business Commitees.

 

Illinois

Rep. Judy Biggert—13th district, R

Congresswoman Biggert, an Illinois native, has represented Illinois’s 13th Congressional district for 14 years. She currently serves on the Financial Services, Education & the Workforce, and Science, Space, & Technology Committees. She and her husband have four children and nine grandchildren. Following redistricting, Biggert found herself in a tough race this year, and she was unseated.

Rep. Jerry Costello—12th district, D

Congressman Costello, who is retiring from Congress, has represented Illinois’s 12th district since 1988. He grew up in East St. Louis and his family—including his wife, three children, and eight grandchildren—still lives in Illinois, where Costello returns every weekend. Before beginning his political career by becoming involved in local government, he worked as a law enforcement officer.

Rep. Robert Dold—10th district, R

Congressman Dold, a freshman this Congress, lost his bid for reelection. He serves on the Financial Services Committee. Prior to his time in the House, Dold ran the oldest pest management company in the country. He lives just a few blocks from his childhood home—his family has lived in the 10th district for three generations—and is also a Scoutmaster.

Rep. Timothy Johnson—15th district, R

After six terms in the House, Congressman Johnson is retiring. An Illinois native, he has been in the public service since his law school days. In addition to law, Johnson’s background includes owning and operating small businesses and farms. He currently serves on the Agriculture and Transportation & Infrastructure Committees, and he has nine children and 11 grandchildren.

Rep. Donald Manzullo—16th district, R

After 20 years in Congress, Congressman Manzullo was defeated in his race for reelection. A member of the Foreign Affairs and Financial Services Committees, one of his main areas of focus is strengthening American manufacturing. Manzullo has been married for 20 years and he and his wife have three children.

Rep. Bobby Schilling—17th district, R

A freshman this Congress, Congressman Schilling was defeated in his reelection attempt. Schilling’s pre-House experience includes time as a machine operator and work in the financial services industry. He also opened and still owns a pizzeria. Schilling and his wife of 26 years have 10 children and two granddaughters.

 

Indiana

Rep. Dan Burton—5th district, R

Congressman Burton, a veteran of the Armed Forces, is retiring after having represented Indiana’s 5th Congressional district for 15 terms. He currently serves on the Committees on Oversight & Government Reform and Foreign Affairs. During the 105th Congress, Burton was Chair of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee, becoming the first Indiana Republican to chair a House committee in over 60 years.

 

Massachusetts

Rep. Barney Frank—4th district, D

After over three decades representing Massachusetts’s 4th district, Congressman Frank is retiring. He is the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, and served as its chair in the 110th and 111th Congresses. Even before his election to the House, Frank was involved in public service, serving as Chief Assistant to a Boston mayor, Administrative Assistant to a Congressman, and for eight years in the Massachusetts House. He has also taught at several Massachusetts universities and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1979.

 

Michigan

Rep. Hansen Clarke—13th district, D

This was Congressman Clarke’s first term in the House, after fulfilling three terms in the Michigan House and two in the Michigan Senate. In addition to serving on the Committees on Homeland Security and Science, Space & Technology, Clarke is Vice President of the Democratic Freshman Class in the House. Redistricting pitted Clarke and House colleague Gary Peters against each other, and Clarke was defeated in the primary.

Rep. Dale Kildee—5th district, D

Congressman Kildee is retiring from Congress after over 30 years in the House of Representatives. Prior to entering the political scene, Kildee did graduate work in Pakistan and taught high school in Detroit and Flint. He’s been married for 47 years and has ten grandchildren.

Missouri

Rep. Todd Akin—2nd district, R

Congressman Akin is leaving the House after 12 years of service there. A former Army officer, he serves on the Armed Services Committee, as well as on the Budget and Science, Space, & Technology Committees. Before being elected to the U.S. House in 2000, Akin served 12 years in the Missouri General Assembly. This year, Akin decided to challenge Senator Claire McCaskill for her Senate seat, a race he ultimately lost.

Rep. Russ Carnahan—3rd district, D

A lifelong resident of the Show-Me State, Congressman Carnahan served his fellow Missourians as Congressman for eight years and as a Missouri House member for two terms before that. Redistricting left Carnahan and fellow Congressman William Lacy Clay running against each other in the same district primary this year, a race that Carnahan lost.

 

Nebraska

Sen. Ben Nelson—D

After 12 years in the U.S. Senate, Senator Nelson—a former governor of Nebraska—is retiring. He is currently a member of four Senate Committees, including Appropriations. Nelson and his wife live in Omaha, and the Senator travels back to Nebraska nearly every weekend. He has won the Grand Slam (domestic) and World Slam (international) for wild turkey hunting, as well as hunted on safari in Africa.

 

New Hampshire

Rep. Charles Bass—2nd district, R

Congressman Bass lost his race for reelection after 12 years of nonconsecutive service in the House. He serves on the Energy & Commerce Committee. Previously, Bass was involved with clean energy efforts and state politics. Bass’s late father was also a Congressman, and Bass and his wife have two children.

 

North Carolina

Rep. Brad Miller—13th district, D

Congressman Miller, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for five terms, is retiring. As a current member of the Financial Services and Science, Space & Technology Committees, Miller has advocated for stronger consumer protection laws and further research of alternative energy options.

 

Ohio

Rep. Dennis Kucinich—10th district, D

After eight terms in the House of Representatives, Congressman Kucinich is leaving. He has served the people of Ohio for much of his life, getting his start as a member of Cleveland’s City Council when he was 23 and then as mayor of Cleveland at 31, but has also worked a variety of jobs including hospital orderly, teacher, and newspaper copy boy.

Rep. Jean Schmidt—2nd district, R

Congresswoman Schmidt, the first woman representing southern Ohio elected to Congress, lost a primary race earlier this year. She has served Ohio’s 2nd district for seven years, following four years of service in state and 11 in local government. Her committee appointments include Transportation & Infrastructure, Foreign Affairs, and Agriculture. Schmidt has been married for 36 years and enjoys running, having completed her 97th marathon several weeks ago.

 

Oklahoma

Rep. Dan Boren—2nd district, D

Congressman Boren, who serves on the Natural Resources and Intelligence Committees, is retiring. When he was elected to the House in 2004, he became part of a family tradition—Boren’s father and grandfather had both also represented Oklahoma in Congress. Prior to joining the U.S. House, he served in the Oklahoma House, where he was the first freshman state representative to be selected caucus chairman.

 

Texas

Rep. Francisco Canseco—23rd district, R

Defeated in his bid for reelection, Congressman “Quico” Canseco is leaving the House after one term in office. A small business owner, he is one of a few freshmen on the Financial Services Committee. Canseco’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, and he has seven siblings.

Rep. Ron Paul—14th district, R

Congressman Paul is retiring after having served in Congress in the 1970s and ‘80s and again from 1997 to present. He serves on the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, and has run for the U.S. Presidency three times (1988, 2008, and 2012). Paul and his wife have five children—including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, their son—and 18 grandchildren.

What do the Election Results Mean?

What do the Election Results Mean?

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The following is a blog from the Committee on Publication Federal Office that was posted on its website November 13, 2012

Generally speaking, the Nov 6. election will not drastically alter the Federal Office’s efforts with health care reform. The results of the election will continue the balance of power that has existed before:

  • Barack Obama was reelected U.S. President
  • Democrats retained control of the Senate
  • Republicans stayed atop the House of Representatives

This electoral outcome makes a full repeal of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) not possible next session, though the implementation of the law will likely be debated by both parties for some time.

At the Federal Office, we feel we are well-positioned to work within this political context, given the strong bipartisan support we’ve received over the past several years. Our issue is one that has uniquely brought together representatives from both sides of the aisle. We feel we are closer now than we ever have been before to achieving our objectives.

So, we’ll keep moving forward: actively seeking solutions to the ACA’s fundamental inequity to Christian Scientists—namely, that the required health insurance does not yet include the type of care we use, nor does the ACA provide for a religious exemption that meets our needs. Accordingly, we’ll continue our efforts in two significant approaches: (1) requesting that federal and state governments include coverage of Christian Science practitioner and nursing services in the benefits that will be offered by health insurance plans in the new state exchanges; and (2) seeking a legislative solution with Congress that would allow anyone with a “sincerely held religious belief” against purchasing the mandated health insurance to be exempted from the requirement.

We are grateful for the incredible support we’ve received from church members all across the country as we forge ahead. Keep abreast of the Church’s progress by visiting our website and making sure we have your correct mailing address so we can send you specific alerts about your state’s officials.

Engaging With Legislators

Engaging With Legislators

U.S. Capitol Building

Guest post written by David Sterrett, Committee on Publication’s Legislative Director, Federal Office

On March 9, 2011, Christian Scientists from around the country made their presence known on Capitol Hill.  Over ninety church members came to Washington, DC and conducted over 200 meetings with Members of Congress and Congressional staff.  There were several goals for this effort: 1) To educate new Members of the House of Representatives and Senate and their staff about Christian Science and the federal government’s long history of including Christian Science care as an option in government health care programs; 2) To inform lawmakers that the health care reform law as it currently stands does not meet the needs of Christian Scientists and others who use  spiritual care (e.g. Christian Science practitioner/nursing services); and 3) To ask legislators to resolve the glaring inequity facing Christian Scientists through either a legislative or regulatory solution.Continue Reading

Capitol Hill Day

Capitol Hill Day

US Capitol Hill – Photo illustrated by McKinley2006

by Don Ingwerson

Last year unprecedented health care reform laws were passed by the Congress and signed by the President. The laws mandate, among other things, that Americans must purchase health insurance by 2014, or pay a tax—except for those who are then enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid, or who otherwise qualify for an exemption under the laws.

The fact is, despite making significant progress over the past two years, Congress has not yet provided Christian Scientists or others who rely on spiritual, non-medical health care services any accommodation or exception that works for them. The laws that were passed will require them to buy health insurance that very likely will not meet their health care needs.

Capitol Hill Day 2011 was on March 9th. I attended with  a number of other Christian Scientists and friends throughout the country to help inform Congress and advocate that they resolve this inequity—at a time when health care reform is very much at the forefront of public debate. I’m not even back from Washington, D. C. yet, but the blog must go on. I’ll let you know the results of this effort in the weeks to come!